Last week we started a discussion on “This Entitlement Mentality Issue” and the feedback ranged from hilarious to very thought provoking. Almost everyone had a story to tell. As a matter of fact I remembered an incidence that happened to my company a few years ago. We wanted to develop a software solution for one of our services and we asked this young, sharp gentleman to send in a proposal for consideration. He did and by the time we looked at it we weren’t convinced he could handle the project because of its complexities. So we nicely communicated this to him. The next thing we got was a mail demanding that we pay for the proposal and threatening to take legal action against us! Obviously he believed he was entitled to earn income for writing a proposal! While I understand the disappointment he must have felt, the real world doesn’t work like that. But then I wonder – could this be a case of entitlement mentality manifesting in adulthood?
According to Marsha B. Sauls, Ph.D., a licensed Psychologist “the entitled child believes that their life consists of the pursuit of happiness, pleasure & fun and that their parents owe them what they need to have a pleasant, fun life. As such, the entitled child feels he / she has a right to be angry when requested to do something to earn what they believe is owed to them or when privileges are withdrawn. Some of their favorite phrases are: “Everybody else does it. Why don’t you trust me?” “It’s their fault.” “That’s not fair!” “I need…’ “I want…’ “You are always on my case”
So how can we help our children curb this entitlement mentality as they transit into adulthood?
- Learn to say No without feeling guilty. This doesn’t mean we shoot down every request our children make. It just means we should pay more attention to what our children are asking for, why they want it and the impact the decision to say “yes” or “No” would have on them on the long run. The key here is to make sure that when our children make excessive demands, we say no and stick with it, even if they make a scene. This is the first step towards stripping away the sense of entitlement.
- Encourage kids to leave their comfort zones. Every time that we endorse our children’s unwillingness to participate in activities (sports, leadership building activities, work experiences) which will ultimately make them more well-rounded individuals, we are subtly telling them that t’s okay to remain in their comfort zone. Reality check – adulthood involves getting uncomfortable!
- Put a limit on what we give our children. We shouldn’t feel obligated to give our children everything they ask for. Ridiculous as it may sound, parents are as susceptible to peer pressure as children. That the neighbor’s child owns the latest gadget or travels ever so often, doesn’t mean that yours have to – especially if you can’t afford it. “Fingers are not equal” is a fact of life. Living above ones means, coveting other peoples property, stealing are sometimes manifestations of an entitlement mentality left unchecked.
- Show them how to improve their chances of having what they want by teaching them how to earn what they want. Whether it’s a place on the school team or a job with one of the greatest organizations in the world. Effort, the right mindset and patience are some of the necessary requirements.
- Encourage them to visit the less privileged. Teaching our children to give to the less fortunate helps shift their focus from “me” & “my”. As a deliberate part of our annual youth program, our organization RAVE et al, sets aside a day for participants to visit the less privileged – orphanages, Old Peoples homes, children with developmental challenges…the experience has always impacted the children positively.
- Require them to practice and show gratitude – Saying “thank you” has a way of reminding them that the things they are given or enjoy didn’t just come out of thin air but are a result of someone else’s hard work or sacrifice.
- Start now to curb any entitlement mentality you may have inadvertently overlooked. Tell your children and yourself that the game has changed and so have the rules. Be warned – you will meet with resistance from your children and other “concerned” parents who haven’t “seen the light” BUT don’t give up. Remember children’s entitlement mentality must be stripped away for their own good. Keep your eye on the goal – grooming successful, independent, productive adults.
We invite you to follow our blog www.parentinvestment.com, it’s a great platform to get “gingered” and interact with other parents. Invite your friends, and let’s join hands to make the necessary parenting investments that would continue to yield positive returns in our children’s lives.